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Thanks for the support

I am writing on behalf of Rural Australians for Refugees Southern Highlands (RARsh) for your assistance with getting the word out on the recent visit by Treehouse Theatre to Mittagong.

There were two performances that took place at Frensham School at Clubbe Hall on February 9 and both were extraordinary and moving.

We had in excess of 500 local high school students at the matinee and more than 340 members of the public in the evening. The students really embraced the show and gave the refugee actors an enthusiastic standing ovation. The refugee students had an absolute ball and felt overwhelming welcomed and appreciated.

Aunty Wendy Lotter (recently named Wingecarribee Shire’s 2018 Australia Day Citizen of the Year) also attended and gave the Welcome to Country and also shared aspects of Aboriginal culture with the refugees and audience.  All were very interested.

We were grateful for the patronage of Frensham School in donating the venue and the assistance from the others schools and the Wingecarribee Shire Council in making this such a huge success.

But we really wanted to pass on that the extraordinary coverage we received from Southern Highland News was noticed by the community, commented upon and appreciated.  

Miriam Margoyles, famed actress and (sometimes) Robertson local was thrilled to be in the audience and wrote to us that she found Suitcase Stories to be  "shocking, moving and funny. I felt emotional and proud and privileged to have seen it. Australia needs these refugees. More please.”

Community events such as these rely on media outlets to make them a success and to help our community to come together in supporting those who have an important story to tell and in educating this generation and the younger ones. We are so pleased you could help us achieve these aims.

We will be bringing Treehouse Theatre down to the Highlands again next year – it is a highlight for many of the refugee children. The day after the show we took them bike riding in the national park and they had such fun. One boy, aged nearly 18, had never before ridden a bike!

Thanks again for your assistance with this story. 

Sarah Lewis

Publicity Officer, RARsh

‘A recipe for increased traffic pressure’

Along with representatives of several community groups, garden societies and Highlands Matters, many of whom are members of the Australian Garden History Society, I attended the council meeting on February 14.

It was very disappointing to hear eight out of the nine councillors express their determination to proceed with Stage I of the so-called ‘Station Street Upgrade’.  

It was almost comical to hear councillors proclaim their love of trees and then vote to destroy at least 155 of them. The planning officer said that at least 155-157 trees would be gone in the road realignment and widening, and the councillors kept talking about only two trees to ‘be removed’, ‘disappear’. All these euphemistic words won’t hide the noise of the chainsaws. The impact on the landscape on the northern entry of Bowral will be enormous.

Do our council engineers and developers like the look of concrete rather than vegetation? The beauty of Bowral depends on its shrubs and trees. It’s the heritage left by the early settlers and later by residents with foresight, who planted for the future generations, US.

I heard an insightful lecture last year in Melbourne by a planning engineer who commented that we have to keep roads ‘on a diet’—people don’t want wide roads spreading across our living areas. What we want are well-maintained road surfaces, safe intersections for traffic and pedestrians, and this could be achieved in Station Street by improving the existing two-lane road.

We want improved access to the railway station—a vital transport interchange for commuters—passengers need to be dropped off or picked up by cars, taxis and buses. And there has to be accessible free parking.

There might well be support for the concept of a by-pass around Bowral that would improve traffic flow and the general amenity of the town, but this proposal doesn’t fit the bill. It’s a recipe for increased traffic pressure at both the northern and southern entrances to Bowral.

If council does not appreciate the contribution mature trees make to the attractiveness of Bowral, the residents and visitors do. The trees and shrubs in Station Street include pin oaks (Quercus palustris) planted in 1897, elms planted by the Girl Guides in the 1940s as part of the Community Remembrance Driveway, and a row of heritage camellias.

The streetscape of the northern part of Station Street is unique in the Southern Highlands because of the plantings. The camellias and majestic mature trees are too old and large to be moved. 

We need to protect and preserve all our mature trees—they take so long to grow and are so quickly destroyed by vandals.

Meg Probyn

Chair, Australian Garden History Society (Southern Highlands Branch)